- Full Text
Parry Sound, Nov. 24 - The tug MILLIE GREW, went this afternoon in search of the missing stm. WAUBANO, has just returned. She found a portion of the wreck of the WAUBANO near "The Haystacks," 5 miles northeast of Mooses Point. A life-boat, bottom up, was also found, but no traces of passengers or crew, 30 in all. The tug returns to resume the search.
Erie Daily Dispatch
November 25, 1879 4-5
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The party who started from Parry Sound on the 30th of March in search of the wreck of the ill-fated WAUBUNO, lost last fall with all on board, some thirty persons, returned to Parry Sound the same night, and report having found the hull about five miles north of Moose Point and a longer distance in toward the main shore than was generally supposed. The hull lies buttom up in a small bay in eleven feet of water. Ninety-four feet of the vessel shows about two feet out; the rest is not more than one foot under. The whole of the starboard bottom is completely destroyed. The port side and keel, as far as can be seen, have not a scratch. The engines and boiler cannot be in her, as the hull has floated at least four miles from where the wreckage was picked up last fall. It is difficult to imagine how the hull floated to the place where it now lies. The bottom, as far as can be seen, is quite sound.
The J.W. Hall Great Lakes Marine Scrapbook, April, 1880
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THE LOST STEAMERS.
The Toronto Globe says: "In regard to several boats lost of late, and the connected apparent fatalities, the following facts will be of interest: The CITY OF CHATHAM and the MARY A. ROBINSON were both built by Hyslop and Ronald, in the Chatham docks, about six years ago, and were afterwards both burnt, the former in Burlington Bay, here, near the Great Western Railway freight wharf, and the latter in her trip between Chicago and Port Colborne. Both boats were then rebuilt, the CITY OF CHATHAM being rechristened the ZEALAND, and the MARY A. ROBINSON the SIMCOE, and now both boats, within a few days of each other, have gone down with such fatal consequences. It might be stated that at the sale here of the hull of the CITY OF CHATHAM, after being burnt, there were only two parties, Mr. J.H. Killey and Mr. Zealand, both of this city, who made bids, the latter gentleman being the purchaser. Hence the name of ZEALAN. It also might be stated that mate Jim Parsons, lost with the SIMCOE, was formerly pilot of the Gun-boat PRINCE ALFRED during the Fenian raid, and afterwards captain of the ill-fated CUMBERLAND, which went to pieces on a rock in Lake Superior in a fog. The second engineer, Mr., McAntley, lost with the SIMCOE, was the son of engineer McAntley, who was lost in the WAUBUNO disaster on the Georgian Bay. Further facts could be given, but the above are the most singular."
The J.W. Hall Great lakes Marine Scrapbook, November, 1880
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A STEAMER LOST!
THE 'WAUBUNO" WRECKED
ALL ON BOARD SUPPOSED TO HAVE PERISHED
News has been received of the loss of the steamer WAUBUNO, near Parry Sound. The vessel left Collingwood on Saturday for Parry Sound, but no tidings being received, fears were entertained as to her safety. The tug MITTIE GREW was dispatched to find tidings of the steamer, and returned reporting having found a portion of the wreck of the WAUBUNO near Haystacks, about five miles north-west of Moose Point. The life-boat was found bottom up. The shores of the islands were strewn with the cargo and wreck of the steamer. No trace of the passengers or crew was discovered. The report sent to the Globe states: The only accurate record of passengers was kept in the books of the steamer, but from inquiries made there is good reason to believe that the following passengers were aboard: Dr. W. H. Doupe; and his wife, of Mitchell; Mr. B.N. Fisher, editor and proprietor of the North Star, Parry Sound; a gentleman named Sylvester, his wife, and a Mr. Grigtin, of Gananoque. Three unknown men, supposed to be a farmer and his
two sons, put up at one of the hotels on Friday last, announcing their intention of going to Parry Sound on the WAUBUNO, and it is believed that they also were on board.. There may have been other passengers, but in any case the number was small, owing to the lateness of the season. Dr. Doupe was a young practitioner. He had been married only a few weeks, and was going with his wife to settle in McKellar, back of Parry Sound, where he expected to practise his profession. The crew were captain G. P. Burkitt; mate, A. Forbes; purser, John Rowland, Jr.; engineer, J. McQuade; wheelsmen, J. McMurchy and J. Harris, firemen; P. O'Grady and R Cook; waiter, George Bass; Cook, G. Hall; porter, B. Wyly; deck -hands Wingrove and Jamieson. The ladies maid, Miss Mary Hyatt, was also on board.
(The farmers mentioned above are Mr. Wm. Robinson, and his two sons, of Oro, who were on their way to look at some land in the District.)
Barrie Northern Advance
November 27, 1879
The gale of Sunday last was productive of widespread disaster to steam and sailing craft on the Canada lakes. The most unfortunate of these, is the wreck of the steamer WAUBUNO, which plied between Collingwood and Parry Sound. The Waubuno left Collingwood on Saturday last heavily laden with merchandise, and was not heard of up to Monday, when portion of her wreck were found strewn along the shores of Georgian Bay. Up to the present time however no tidings have been received of the unfortunate passengers and crew, who are it is feared all lost.
The steamer Waubuno which left Collingwood for parry Sound on Saturday morning was wrecked near Moose Point and it is feared that all her passengers and crew have perished.
No tidings have been received of the steamer WAUBUNO. Three tugs are making a careful search along the islands which fringe the east shore of Georgian bay but owing to the rough weather they were not expected to reach port before to-day. There is great excitement in Collingwood over the probable fate of the vessel as all the officers and crew were residents of that town.
The WAUBUNO - We are all talking of the loss of this steamer, it is so near home. The anxiety, and suspense over the fate of the passengers and crew are very great. One of the later Wm. Jameison, the main support of widowed mother, lived here for many years and is well known by numbers of us. The captain has relatives here, and yesterday morning it was reported that Mr. James Reid was a purser of the ill-fated boat, this however is not true, fortunately for himself and his friends. We would all be glad to hear that human lives were not lost in the wreck, but unhappily there is too much reason to think otherwise. Another day or two will probably end the suspense.
Wreck of Str. Waubuno on Georgian Bay
24 Persons Missing
The Proprietor of the North Star on Board
The Georgian Bay Transportation Co's Steamer WAUBUNO left Collingwood at 4 a.m. on Saturday morning last for Pany Sound. At ten a.m. the Steamer MAGNETTAWAN also left for this place and arrived here at noon on Monday, having laid up at the Christian Islands till the weather grew less furious. She reported having seen nothing of the WAUBUNO. Accordingly the tug MITTIE GREW was dispatched in search of her, and returned the same night, reporting that they could find no trace of the crew, but picked up several articles that they knew belonged to the missing vessel, consisting of a metallic life boat turned bottom up and stove in at both ends, a life-preserver with the ships name on it, several articles of furniture out of the cabin, the ships ledger, and a part of the paddle box with the letters W.A. on it. Barrels of apples, flour and different articles of freight were distributed along the shore in abundance.
Tuesday morning the tug MITTIE GREW again sailed for the scene of the wreck, which is supposed to be Moose Point, and there she met the wrecking tug MARY ANN sent out from Collingwood, also the tug RESCUE belonging to the contractors of the Georgian Bay Branch of the Canada Pacific Railway. She had left Collingwood for French River on Friday, but had laid up at Penetanguishene for shelter. All three scoured the east shore, but notwithstanding their efforts to discover some clue to the persons who were missing by visiting all the neighbouring islands, they had to leave with some of the freight, which the Indians had collected, and from whom they took it away. The tug MITTIE GREW took a scow out with her and hands were hired by different owners to pick up what freight they could, for whom the tug will return. Mr. Starkey also went with the searching party and provided himself with his yacht and a small skiff with which he intended to visit all the points where the crew or passengers would be likely to drift to. It is to be hoped his efforts will be rewarded with success. The following is a list of the crew and passengers as far as we can ascertain at present: Crew J. Burkett, Captain, S. Ford, Mate, J. Rowland, Purser, J. McQuade, Engineer, Patrick O'Grady and Robert Cook, Firemen, McMurchy and James Harris, Wheelsmen, Miss Hiot, Lady's Maid, George Bass, Stewart, Banks Wylie, Porter, J.Hall, Cook, J. Wingrove and Jamieson, Deck Hands. Passengers: Mr. B. Noel Fisher, Editor and proprietor of this paper, Dr. Doupe and wife, of Mitchell, going to settle in McKellar, and had only been married three weeks, Mr. Sylvester and wife, a man named Griffin, from Gananoque, and three others unknown, supposed to be father and two sons, farmers.
All the crew lived in Collingwood, and great anxiety is felt by the relatives and friends of the missing ones. Five of them were married men with families, viz: the Captain, McQuade, McMurchy, Harris and hall. Mr. McQuade is very much respected in this part of the country, being engineer on the WAUBUNO for seven years. He had two sons on the MAGNETTAWAN one engineer and the other a deck-hand.
The value of the vessel is estimated at $14,000 and she is not insured. The cargo consisted of general goods and is valued roughly at $10,000. There are a great many different opinions afloat as regards to how the WAUBUNO was wrecked whether she had struck on some sunken rock near the mouth of the channel, or whether she foundered in rough sea outside.
Parry Sound, North Star
November 28, 1879
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WRECK OF THE WAUBUNO
ALL THE PASSENGERS AND CREW LOST
PARTS OF THE WRECK & FREIGHT STREWED ALONG THE SHORE
About Thirty-two Lives Lost
THREE TUGS SENT OUT TO EXAMINE THE COAST AND ENDEA YOUR TO FIND THE BODIES
FRUITLESS SEARCH - THE TUGS RETURNED
One of the most appalling accidents that has ever visited out town occurred on Saturday last, whereby 32 human beings met a watery grave. The WAUBUNO one of the Georgian bay Transportation Company steamers, left here at 4 a.m. Saturday morning with fourteen of her crew and about eighteen passengers besides a heavy load of freight, principally of flour, pork and apples and three car loads of general Merchandise, for Parry Sound, the wind blowing fresh at the time from the South-west, she was last seen passing the Christian islands by the lighthouse keeper, keeping on her regular course. The gale increased so much during the day that the steamer MAGNETTAWAN which left here for the same port at 10 a.m. had to lay to at the Christian Islands until the following Monday morning, when she was enabled to reach her destination. The first intimation of the dreadful occurrence that our citizens had was a telegram from Midland to the effect following:
MIDLAND ONT., Nov. 24, (10 a.m.) - Mr. A. Cadotte reports that while coming down the Georgian Bay yesterday, he passed portions of the cabin and deck of a steamer, also barrels of flour coming from the Western Islands near the light house. He says that the north shore is strewn with portions of the wreck and cargo.
On receipt of the telegram the wrecking tug MARY ANN was got ready for sea, and about 4 o'clock left for the scene of the disaster; having on board besides the crew, Mr. T. Long, Mr. Geo. Moberly and Mr. John Rowland. The storm was so great, however, that they had to remain at the Christian Islands all night and until noon on Tuesday when the tug proceeded to the scene of the wreck on order to render any assistance and hunt for any survivors that might have reached the shore.; but we regret to state their efforts have been unavailing, as no trace of the missing passengers or crew can be found. Two other tugs were also departed from Parry Sound; but their efforts were alike fruitless. They remained all day on Tuesday coasting along the shore and examining the inlets, but with out effect until Wednesday, when they all abandoned the search and returned home. The MARY ANN brought back the metallic life boat(damaged) some bedding, life-preservers and other portions of the wreck picked up during her search.
All hopes of any of the passengers or crew being saved is now abandoned and consequently the real cause of the disaster will be forever shrouded in mystery. The supposition is that with the heavy load and the gale that was blowing at the time, a wave struck her and stove in her hold after filling her hold with water and thus causing her to sink at once, and in going down, the air getting under her lighter upper works forced them, with her floating deck load, off ,the hull with the remainder of the cargo, passengers and crew all going to the bottom without a moments warning. Of course it is impossible to fix the exact locality of the terrible disaster; but from the point where the portions of the wreck have been found, and the direction of the prevailing winds, we should say it would be only some six or seven miles south of the Western Islands on her regular course between here and Parry Sound.
All kinds of rum ours were in circulation during the past few days, with regards to the wreck and those on board; but we believe the above are the facts and reliable. It is scarcely necessary to add that the terrible calamity has cast a gloom over the whole town, the bereaved friends having the deepest sympathy of every citizen in this their sore distress.
The following is the list of those on board as leaving Collingwood, as near as can be ascertained, there being no means of positively learning the names or number of passengers. The names of the passengers being principally picked up at the hotels where they were stopping. There may have been others on board whose names have not transpired -
Captain Burkett, mate, A. Forbes: purser, J. Rowland: engineer, J.. Mqeuade; wheels, J. McMuichy; wheelsmen, J. .H. Harris; fireman, P. O'Grady, fireman, R. Cook, waiter, Geo Bass; Cook. J. Hale; (col.); porter, Bwillie; ladiesmaid, Mary Hiott; deck hands, Wingrove and Hiott
Dr. W.H. Donpe and wife Mitchell, B. Noal Fisher, (Editor North Star) Mr. Sylvestor and wife, Mr. Griffin, Gannanoque; Three men supposed to be father and two sons, vho had been stopping at the Anglo American; Mrs. McDougall and family were also supposed to be on board. In addition to the foregoing two other passengers heretofore not known, appear to have perished on the ill-fated steamer as will be seen by the following letter;
Sir- For the information of friends and relatives, please give publicity to the fact, that Mr. David Collette a member of the Queen's own, and a printer in my employment until last week was a passenger on the steamer WAUBUNO. Mr. Collette and another young journeyman printer named Colin or Canthn, were engaged by Mr. Fisher to work on the Parry Sound Star, and left in his company for their destination last Friday. Should his friends or relatives desire any further information I will willingly furnish all I can.
WILSON MORTON Toronto Nov. 25th 1879
DESCRIPTION OF THE VESSEL
The WAUBUNO was built in Thorald in 1865 and was 135 feet in length by 18 feet 5 inches in breadth, and 7 feet in depth. Her gross tonnage was 465 tons; her registered tonnage being 293 tons. She was regarded as a good strong sea boat, and has stood a good deal of heavy weather during the past fourteen years, as she seldom postponed a trip on account of weather, but it is feared that she was too heavily laden, having a large amount of freight on board. If she had prudently sought the shelter of Christian Island until the gale abated she would have escaped destruction; but, no doubt, the captain had full confidence in her ability to weather any storm she encountered when he proceeded on his perilous journey.
The late sad and terrible accident to the WAUBUNO has left six widows and families most of whom are totally unprovided for when a little forethought on the part of those whose duty it was to provide for them in getting life or accident assurance would have made them comfortable. Five dollars a year will secure an accident policy.
To the Editor of the Enterprize
SIR - There can be little doubt that all who were on board the WAUBUNO have perished and none left to tell the tale of the awful shipwreck This terrible visitation from the All Wise Ruler of the Universe has been the all absorbing thought and topic of conversation of every one words of sympathy for the dear ones left behind to morn the loss of the loved ones gone before have been uttered by all. The time has now come for action prompt, decided action, the widows and the orphans must have everything done to assist them in their dire necessity that lies in our power. The bread-winners have been taken from them. The God of the fatherless and the widow has entrusted them to the care of the people of this town, let us fully realize our responsibility.
My first thought was to announce through the papers that the offering on Sunday next in All Saint's church should be given for the assistance of the sufferers, and to suggest that it shall be generally done, but on second thoughts I considered it better not to do so, for it is a common thing in every community for people to excuse themselves from giving further and because they say they gave all they could afford on Sunday, when perhaps they were the very ones to give the smallest coins. I cannot think of any better plan than for the Mayor to open a subscription list, at his office, for the cheerful givers to deposit their gifts to have also an Aid Committee appointed to go to every one not thus contributing and have the subscribers names with the amounts given, published in all the local papers. If the amount contributed be in proportion to the words of sympathy uttered Collingwood will do well. What ever is done must be done at once, while hearts are open, moreover, the need of some of the widows is most pressing, no time should be lost in letting them know that active measures are being taken to help them.
It has been my lot in life to see many cases of distress, but never have I found such desolate homes and broken hearts as I have among friends of the ship's company of the ill-fated WAUBUNO.
Obediently yours L. H. Kirby
The Rectory, Nov. 17, 1879
November 28, 1879
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Wreck of the Steamer WAUBUNO in Georgian Bay
NO TIDINGS OF THE PASSENGERS OR CREW
THE NORTH SHORE STREWN WITH FRAGMENTS OF THE WRECK
REPORTS FROM a THE WESTERN LAKES
Midland, Nov. 24 - Mr. A Cadotte reports that while coming down Georgian Bay Yesterday he passed portions of the cabins and decks of a steamer, also barrels of flour, coming from the western islands. He says that the north shore is strewn with portions of the wreck and cargo.
Collingwood. Nov. 24 - Fears are entertained for the safety of the Georgian Bay Transportation Company's steamer WAUBUNO, which left here on Saturday morning at four o'clock for Parry Sound, and nothing has since been heard of her. The steamer MAGANETTAWAN left here at ten a.m. On Saturday, and arrived at Pany .Sound at noon to-day, having laid behind Christian Island from 12:30 on Saturday till this morning. She reports havIng seen nothing of the WAUBUNO. A tug has been sent out from here, and also one from Parry Sound in search of the missing steamer.
LATER -The wrecking tug MARY ANN left here this afternoon in search of the missing steamer, but it is expected nothing will be heard from her until to-morrow morning. The tug MITTIE GREW left Parry Sound at 2 p.m. to-day, and returns with the report of findmg a metallic life boat and portions of flour barrels - The metallic life-boat could possibly have been wash overboard, not being tied. Great hopes are still entertained for the safety of the crew, but it is
thought the steamer is lost.
PARRY SOUND, Nov. 24 - Considerable excitement was caused here this morning by news from Waubaushene that the wreck and cargo of a steamer supposed to be the MAGANETTAWAN had been seen by fishermen in the Georgian Bay yesterday. About two hours after the news first came the MAGANETTAWAN arrived all safe, reported that the steamer WAUBUNO left Collingwood about four o'clock Saturday morning heavily laden with freight and a few
passengers, among whom was Mr. B. N. Fisher. editor and proprietor of the North Star. The MAGANETTAWAN left Collingwood at 2 p.m. on Saturday, and encountered a heavy sea before she reached Christian Island, where she lay at anchor until this morning when she came in without any signs of the WAUBUNO. Mr. l.C. Millar M. P. P., at once started the tug MITTIE GREW, in charge of Captain Burritt and a few picked men to proceed to Moose Point in hopes of rescuing some of the passengers and crew it may have possibly got on some of the islands as the wind of Saturday morning would have carried any survivors in that direction. The WAUBUNO was built by Messrs J. & W. Beatty, of St. Catherines, in 1865, and was by many considered quite unfit for the route, especially at this season of the year.
LATER -The tug MITTIE GREW has just returned and reports having found a portion of the wreck of the WAUBUNO near the Haystacks, about five miles north west of Moose Point. The life-boat was found bottom up. The shores of the island are strewn with cargo and wreck of the steamer. No trace of the passenger or crew has been discovered. The tug returned in the morning to resume the search.
The Lost "WAUBUNO"
PENETANGUISHENE, Nov. 29 - The trunk of Captain Burkett, of the WAUBUNO, was found this side of the hay-stacks by one of the men searching for remains of the wreck. He deposited the trunk on one of the islands close by and went back and resumed the search. To his surprise, he found upon his return that the trunk had been forced open and everything stolen out of it. The man who found the trunk offers to give the manes of the parties who burst it open if
some proper persons will come here and look after them. Doctor Doupe's trunk, containing his stock of medicines and some other things, has also been secured, and is here in the possession of the man who found it, who is willing to give it to the proper parties as soon as they claim it. A Frenchman living in the French settlement near here who has been gathering up some of the wreck, is said to have obtained about four hundred dollars worth of flour and other stuff. The Indians and half-breeds living on the islands near he wreck are having a rich harvest.
We learn to-night that the tug SUSAN DOTY was forced to run ashore on Christian Isalnd during the gale, and still remains there.
Parry Sound, Dec.2 - The steamer NORTHERN QUEEN of the Georgian bay Transportation Company's Line arrived here from Collingwood about 11 o'clock to-day with a heavy load of freight and passengers. She left Collingwood at 3:30a.m. the weather being fine, but after passing the Christian Islands a furious snow storm arose which caused the greatest anxiety to the captain and others on board. The storm increased until when near the supposed scene of the
WAUBUNO disaster nothing could Be seen forty yards from the steamer. With the greatest ability, however Captain Campbell succeeded in making the entrance to the channel, and amid the blinding storm brought the vessel safe through the innumerable shoals and islands.
A Fearful Wreck on Georgian Bay
A HEAVY LOSS OF LIFE AND MERCHANDISE
(Special correspondence of the London)
Parry Sound, Nov. 25 - The steamer WAUBUNO, which had plied between this port and CollIngwood for the last thirteen years has become a total wreck, and her crew and passeng , all supposed to have perished. She left Collingwood on Saturday, 22nd inst, about four o'clock a.m. with a very heavy load of freight, and with at least fifteen passengers. The steamer MAGANETTAWAN, left Collingwood some five or six hours afterwards and managed to reach the Christian Islands, when she had to cast anchor there until Monday morning. And as she saw nothing of the WAUBUNO it is supposed that she had got past the Christian Islands before the heavy gale of Saturday struck her. It is thought she then directed her course towards what is called Moose Point, in order to get into shelter as soon as possIble. But unfortunately she never could have reached it. It was blowing a living gale, and a blinding snow falling at he same time, and owing to her very heavy load, and as swell after swell struck her, it is very reasonable to suppose that she spread right out and floundered. She had about six thousand dollars worth of goods for George McLean, Esq., of the Guelph Lumber Co; about three thousand for Wm. Beatty, Esq., general merchant, four hundred for Thos. Walton, M.D., of drugs, etc., three hundred or more in leather for Wm. Taylor, and a whole host of other stuff for different parties.- The following is a list of those supposed to have been on board, and who have undoubtedly perished. Dr. Clark and wife, and family of seven, of Cobourg; B. N. Fisher, proprietor of North Star, Parry Sound; Jas. Huff and mother and two sisters, of Parry Sound; James Carradice and Mrs. McDougall, of Parry Sound; and the crew of the WAUBUNO, consisting of thirteen. In all probability there were more passengers, but those enumerated are those we are almost sure were on board. The people here are all excited, and can think of nothing else. When it was first surmised that something was wrong, Mr Miller sent his MITTIE GREW out the south channel to see if she could see anything of the WAUBUNO. She left just after the arrival of the steamer MAGANETTAWAN, who reported as having seen nothing of the WAUBUNO. The MITTIE returned in the evening, With the news that our worst fears were realized. From what is called the Haystack, as far as the eye could see, there was merchandise of all kinds beating against the rocks and floating around. They found the sofa out of the captain's cabin, and also a picture. They also found one of the life boats with both ends stove in, also a life preserver and pieces of the covering of the paddle wheels, and everything goes to show that she is litera1ly torn to pieces. But they could not see or hear the
slightest evidence of any person alive. This morning a larger party have taken tents, blankets and provisions and gone out to the wreck again, to pick up what they can of the goods, and if possible, get the bodies of those who have perished. This is the first evidence of a serious nature that has ever occurred so near home, and I don't think there was ever such a total wreck in so short a time and so many lives lost on the Georgian Bay before.
December 4, 1879
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Now that the first shock of surprise and grief at the WAUBUNO disaster has somewhat abated, It is natural that attention should be turned to the cause which have produced such fatal -results. The chief point round which interest necessarily centres is the seaworthiness of the vessel itself. Every passenger who travels by water is bound, and thoroughly understands the nature of the obligation, to incur a certain amount of risk - wind and weather.
To suppose that a vessel is in an unfit condition for service and that her officers are unaware of the fact is to suppose them utterly unfit for the position of trust they fill, and to stretch the point a step further, that is, to imagine that officers acquainted with the unseaworthiness of their ship refrain from informing their employers of the fact, is to imagine a reserve on the part of those employed, which peop1e in general can neither understand nor
appreciate. It would be manifestly unjust, in the face of numerous and contradictory rumours which are afloat respectIng the WAUBUNO both when she left this port as well as Collingwood to give publicity to those rumours. The investigation, which we have every reason to believe the friends of those lost on the ill fated vessel are already setting in motion, will no doubt be thorough and searching. Nor should the owners of the vessel be adverse to any such investigation. Either their vessel was fit for passenger traffic or she was not. In the former case no investigation can alter the facts, in the latter no strictures can be too severe. The question is not how the WAUBUNO was wrecked on the Georgian Bay, but whether she was fit to be on the water at all. The fact that years ago she weathered far worse stonns than the one she went through on the 22nd of November has nothing to do with the case in point, or if it proves anything, proves that years ago she was in better condition to carry on the battle against the elements. The WAUBUNO was built in 1865 and consequently had seen fourteen years service.
Parry Sound North Star
December 5, 1879
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Referring to the WAUBUNO the three tugs which went out to look for the wreck returned on Wednesday night. They found parts of the upper works of the missing steamer, and large quantities of freight but found no signs of any of the passengers having escaped.
Capt... of the MARY ANN gives it as his settled conviction that the steamer foundered not far from Lone Rock. It was there she would encounter the severest weather, and she would necessarily have to run broadside to the waves. He thinks the force of the waves under her guards parted her, and she filled with water. Capt. Campbell of the NORTHERN QUEEN thinks she struck one of the rocks belonging to the group known as the Western Isles, and sank.
The particular mode of her destruction will probably remain a mystery for ever. She had a heavy load, and the storm she met beyond the Christian Islands was simply terrific. The Captain of the MAGNETTAWAN, who left this port on Saturday morning for the same destination states that the storm came up very suddenly, and that it would be scarcely possible for any steamer to brave. The MAGNETTAWAN was forced to take shelter under the Christian Islands until the storm had moderated. Probably the WAUBUNO had reached the open water before it reached its height, and found it impossible to turn back.
Long Bros of Collingwood it is reported, will lose heavily by the wrecking of the WAUBUNO as the greater part of the cargo belongs to them. The freight lost was principally provisions for the shanties along the north shore.
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Speaking of the WAUBUNO disaster the Bobcaygon Indepentent refers sorrowfully and kindly of Mr. Fisher, whose death we deplore in common with the other readers of the North Star;- " Among the passengers was Mr. B. N. Fisher, editor and proprietor of the Parry Sound North Star, a gentleman of high attainments and one of those who adore the noble profession of the journalist. He was an Englishman by birth, was a Shropshire man and was educated in Shrewsbury School under Doctor Kennedy. He was yet a young man, but while engaged as news editor on the Toronto Telegram he gave evidence of great professional talent. He had been in possession of the North Star only a short time but the paper had already taken a place side by side with those respectable journals which are seeking to raise the tone of Canadian journalism and elevate the profession from the low level to which party politics has degraded it The death of Mr. Fisher in use of those sad events which every true journalist in Canada will deplore. There was an insurance on his life which the Insurance Company has signified will agree to pay without any additional evidence of his death.
December 11, 1879
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MR. LONG AND THE WAUBUNO
The Secretary of the Georgian Bay Transportation Company has undertaken to vouch for the seaworthiness of the WAUBUNO, which was lost on the 22nd of November last in the Georgian Bay. Mr. Long's contention that the WAUBUNO was seaworthy would not have been necessary had no doubt existed on the point. The Company's Secretary may make himself believe this and pacify his conscience, but the widows, and orphans, and friends of those who went down in that ill-fated boat will require something more then his statements to convince them that he is right, and public opinion so very far wrong. It is true the WAUBUNO was built in 1865 and so constructed at first that she required false sides before she was seaworthy at all. She had never been re-built, but she has had some repairs. The same false sides were on, and the same old timber, rotten or sound, shall we ever know which? It is stated publicly that the boat was leaking badly and had to be pumped while lying at the dock the Sunday before her loss, in fact that during Saturday night the water got up to the fire hole. The Captain stated to one of our influential citizens, only a few weeks ago, that he was afraid to put her out in heavy weather as she was not fit; the engines are also said to have been in very bad condition. Now let us examine some of the circumstances of the disaster. The WAUBUNO is admitted to have left Collingwood at 4 a.m. on the fatal morning. Her running time to the north end of Hope Island was about five hours, and from Hope Island to Lonely Rock two hours, so that the accident must have taken place between 9 and 11 a.m., most likely about 10 o'clock, at which hour the .magnettawan, a small boat and heavily laden, left Collingwood and reached Christian Island safely at 12:00 0'clock. The wind did not rise very early on the fatal morning, but increased rapidly about 10 o'clock, and certain it is that the MAGNETTAWAN must have encountered the full and increasing force of the gale (under which the Waubuno succumbed) for nearly two hours after the later vessel had gone to the bottom. That any sea-worthy boat should not be able to run before a fair
wind across a sixteen mile passage will scarcely be credited. However this question cannot rest where it is. We do not wish to add anything to the heavy load of censure the owners of the WAUBUNO now have to bear. It is the duty of the Govemrnent to see that a thorough investigation be made into the facts, we trust the Attorney General will order this to be done when any of the bodies are found. If Mr. Long is right in his contention then the Company deserves to be freed from censure. And on the other hand if public opinion be correct the full consequences of their guilt should be visited upon those who subjected valuable lives to such fatal risks.
Parry Sound North Star
December 12, 1879
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The people of Collingwood with most commendable generosity are doing all in their power to help the widows and orphans left destitute by the loss of the WAUBUNO.
A meeting of merchants and others who have been losers by the vreck of the WAUBUNO have been suggested the object being to take steps against the owners of the boat to recover the losses, should it be decided that there is reasonable ground for action.
Collingwood papers last week acknowledges the receipt of $290 towards the WAUBUNO Relief Fund.
. . . . .
The total amount raised by the treasurer of the WAUBUNO Relief Fund up to the 30th was $1,365 - $400 of which was contributed by the Georgian Bay Transportation Company
Barrie Northern Advance
January 8, 1880
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It has been reported that the hull of the ill-fated steamer WAUBUNO has been found by an Indian while fishing through the ice, somewhere near what is known as Moose Point. The Indian [ part missing] .....
open water for at least a mile ahead, and at first sight it appeared impossible to cut a portage though the dense forest, and get the horses and sleigh over the rocks that line the shore. The only course seemed to be, to leave the team and make the remainder of the distance on foot, but upon examination it was determined to force through if possible. All went to work with a will, and after an hour's hard work the portage was effected. A clear passage to the Georgian Bay was at last presented to our view, and as we emerged from among the numerous islands the sight which was unfolded amply repaid for all our labour. The picture formed by the vast expanse of ice piled in places high up in ragged masses, with the Christian Islands, Giant's Tomb and Western Isles looming up in the distance, and the background formed by the hundreds of islands which line the shore is a sight which, when once seen will never be forgotten. From here we struck out towards the open water of the Georgian Bay, still under the pilotage of Mr. Starkey, the Indian, who had never made a trip down this channel before, seeming "mixed" as to his whereabouts.
When we arrived to within a short distance of where the hulk of the wreckage came ashore last fall, the Indian seemed to recognise the locality and from here piloted us direct to the spot where the hull lay, thus making the finding of the WAUBUNO an accomplished fact.
The hull lies, keel up, in a small bay about three or four miles, a little south of east, of the islands where the most of the heavy wreckage was found, or in a direct line between the "Indian Docks" and the "Haystacks" about two miles north of the latter. She lies, as we said before, keel up, in about from ten to twelve feet of water. At her bow she is about three feet above the water and at the stem about one foot under the water, thus lying three-fourths of her entire length exposed. As she lies now she shows no signs of having come in contact with the rocks, but the starboard side, from the stem to within about twenty-five or thirty feet of her bow. is burst outwardly, though not completely detached, while on her port side not the slightest sign of any injury is visible.
About two hours were spent by the party in making a thorough examination" taking soundings, and testing the timbers of the hull, which were found to be perfectly sound. Of course owing to the position in which she lies, it was impossible to ascertain whether the machinery still remains in her or not, but the probability is that it has fallen out Finding it impossible to do anything further, and having accomplished our purpose, we parted with our Indian guide and started on the return trip, reaching Parry Sound at about half past eight o'clock having met with no more serious accident than the breaking through the ice of one of the ponies, which was easily extricated. To Mr. Dowell's team of ponies is due the fact that the trip was so quickly and safely made, for had a heavier team been taken, we would undoubtedly have been compelled to have made much more of the distance on foot, but as it was we were enabled to drive the horses right up to where the wreck lies.
THE PROBABLE CAUSE OF THE WRECK
Will perhaps never be known, but will doubtless remain a mystery; opinions very as much now as at the time the ill-fated steamer perished, carrying with her so many persons lives. It is possible however, that some additional light may be thrown on the disaster when the ice.. floated, right side up sustained by the air chambers formed by her false sides, to the rocks which protect the entrance of the bay in which she now lies. and then striking shallow ground, she rolled over like a huge log, her machinery falling through her damaged starboard side. thus giving her the appearance she now presents. Others again affirm that she did not strike a rock, but that the huge waves, catching her under the guards - where they say she was weak stripped her of her upper works, and left her at the mercy of the waves she finally rolled over, spilled hermachinery and drifted into the bay, while a still smaller number say she capsized in the open water, and thus became wrecked. Which of these theories is correct it is simply impossible at the present time to say, but one thing is apparent, and that is that the captain was doing his best to run her into comparatively smooth water of the South Channel when the dIsaster overtook her. Which must have been swift and sudden, allowing no time in which the unfortunate people on board could make any attempt to escape.
Scarcely two persons can be found who agree entirely as to how the wreck occurred and to the precise way the hull drifted to where she now lies. One theory is that while hurrying before the fatal storm with hold partially full of water from the leak which reports say she sprung a trip or two before, her captain saw through the blinding snow storm the dim outline of rocks ahead immediately the order would be given "hard port" or "hard-a-Starboard" and the attempt made to bring her around but from a well known trick the Waubuno had, she probably hung in the trough of the sea, till drifting and drifting her keel somewhere about the stem or midship struck on some sunken outlying rock. The full force of wind and waves on her broadside would cause her to careen heavily to leeward, when her rotten upper works, deck cargo and living freight would hopelessly and helplessly shot from the sounder hull into the raging lake. Thence lightened of its load the hull probably rose, drifted over the outlying rocks and ultimately found a resting place in its present position.
April 1, 1880
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They have discovered the hull of the ill fated Waubuno almost five miles north of Moose Point. It lies bottom up in a small bay in eleven feet of water. The engines and boiler can not be in her. The bottom as far as can be seen is quite sound.
Barrie Northern Advance
Apri1 12, 1880
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The Parry Sound Star gives a long account of the finding of the WAUBUNO. The hull lies up in a small bay in eleven feet of water. Ninety-four feet of the vessel shows about two feet out, the rest is more than one foot under. The whole of the starboard bottom is completely destroyed.
The port side and keel as far as can be seen have not a scratch. The engines and boiler can not be in her as the hull has floated at least four miles from where the wreckage was picked up last fall. It is difficult to imagine how the hull floated to the place where it now lies. The bottom as far as can be seen is quite sound.
Barrie Northern Advance
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An expedition, in which the North Star is fully represented, started for the wreck of the WAUBUNO on the 26th inst. As the scene of the disaster is now clear of ice, and the islands free from snow, it hoped, though barely expected, that some bodies may be found or some additional information gained that will throw light on the unfortunate accident. No news has so far been received from the expedition, but a full report may be expected in our next issue.
May 6, 1880
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A number of men put out from Midland last week to view the wreck of the WAUBUNO. They returned on Monday, bringing with them several pieces of plank and some sticks of cordwood, all bearing evidence of a theory as to that vessel which we have not yet seen advanced. These pieces of wood were covered with blood, and the leader of the expedition concludes from that fact that the boiler of the Waubuno had burst. The position of the wreck and
appearance of the machinery tend to strengthen the supposition in the minds of those who propose this latest theory.
It is said that an investigation of the causes of this terrible disaster cannot be made until some of the bodies are recovered. The inscrutable ways of red tapeism may positively forbid the assumption that a man is drowned until his body is fished up from the bottom of the sea, notwithstanding the vessel in which he was known to have set sail was found keel up several months afterwards. Red tape may be right, but there is something most horridly barbarous in the thought that a score of precious lives have been lost and not a single attempt made to discover how that loss occurred or whether anyone was to blame. Ever since the accident the air has been fled with all sorts of rumours as to the unseaworthiness of the vessel in question; suspicions of the grossest and most criminal carelessness have been freely circulated. Yet the authorities have steadily refused to move in the matter This may be all strictly regular; we do not pretend to a knowledge of the ways which govern those in authority; their conduct may be prudent and quite within their line of duty, but it is not Christian - it is not even human.
June 10, 1880
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Several parry Sound men have paid a second visit to the scene of the WAUBUNO wreck. They have taken with them appliances to turn the hull right side up, and if successful this will be enabled to inspect the boat and possibly come to a true conclusion as to the cause of the accident. The impression of one of the party at the time of his last visit was that the boiler had blown up, which opinion was based on the fact large rents, reaching nearly from stem to stem were visible. How far this may prove true wIll be shown on further mvesbgatlon.
Barrie Northern Advance
July 1, 1880
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Mrs. Walker of Mitchell say the Stratford Herald has received a glove belonging to her daughter who was lost with the ill fated WAUBUNO. It was picked up on an island, but this is the only article out of a large outfit that has been found.
The hull of the ill-fated Waubuno now lies with the bow on Moberly Island and the stem in about 12 feet of water. A party among whom was ex-Warden Cameron, President of the Georgian Bay Trans. Co., have been visiting the wreck. They found the timbers of the vessel far from being rotten; nor were there indications of her having blown up. No trace of any of the bodies was discovered. The Enterprise thinks that the cause of the disaster will ever remain a mystery, and believes from the time that has now elapsed here is no possibility of ever discovering any of the bodies. It advances the theory that the bodies at the bottom would likely be washed close to the rocks and deep holes which abound in the vicinity, and would thus be prevented from ever coming to the surface.
Barrie Northern Advance
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The latest regarding the wreck of the "WAUBUNO"
THE HULL TURNED OVER AND FOUND TO BE PERFELY SOUND
On Monday last the wrecking tug MARY ANN was employed by the Georgian Bay Transportation Company to proceed to the wreck of the WAUBUNO and turn the hull over. On board was Mr. Charles Can1eron, President of the Georgian Bay Transportation Co. Mr. Jas, Beatty and captain Foote of the Georgian Bay line, and Messrs George Moberly, John Rowland, Bone and others They arrived near the scene of the wreck that evening, but it was blowing so hard that operations were deferred until next day. On Tuesday morning the MARY ANN ran down to the wreck, and it was found that parties who had been endeavouring to turn the hull had worked it further into deep water. On inspection it was found that a number of large holes had been cut in the bottom by parties who expected to find freight under the hull.
The hull is situated on an island inside of a small land-locked bay, the entrance of which, is protected on each side by two large rocks, and it is difficult to imagine how the wreck drifted into the present position.
The crew of the tug got an anchor under the edge of the hull taking hold of the planking. The anchor was fastened by heavy tackle and block to some trees on shore, but when the tug commenced pulling on the tackle fall the trees commenced giving way from the roots. The tackle was next fastened to a solid projecting rock when the tug pulled the hull over.
There was nothing inside the hull with the exception of some timbers and part of the gallows frame, the whole deck was completely gone, and some portions of the side being worn away by dumping against the rocks. The party made a careful examination and found the planking, ceiling, timbers and all he knees left perfectly sound. In fact the ends of the timbers damaged by coming in contact with the rocks, owning to the action of the waves were ragged like a broom showing that the wood was not only sound but tough. They also found that in those places here the deck became fastened to the sides both the ceiling and outside planking were perfectly solid and had an exceedingly fresh appearance -almost as much so as the day she was launched They also found a number of pieces of the gallows frame, deck -beam, &c, which were perfectly solid and sound. .
No sign of any of the bodies was observed and then the party left the wreck at 6:15 p.m Arriving in Collingwood at
10:50 ---- Collingwood Messenger.
Owen Sound Times
July 15, 1880
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THE LOST WAUBUNO -- There is at present going on between the Parry Sound Star and the Collingwood Messenger a dispute as to the condition of the ill fated WAUBUNO when she set out on her last trip. The former paper declares that the timbers of the vessel were rotten, while the latter asserts the very opposite to have been the case, As the editors of both papers profess to have visited the scene of the wreck and examined the hull carefully, it is not possible to say which is correct in his statement. The only way to get at the facts in this case would be to hold
an investigation, as has been frequently suggested by the papers. If the boat was seaworthy, it will be an easy matter to prove; if she was not seaworthy, then it is well the fact were known so that responsibility in the disaster might be properly placed. As it is people are altogether in the dark about the boat, and only too ready to believe the stories in circulation reflecting on the owners of the luckless craft. It does seem a wonder that in vindication of their good name the company do not have a full and proper enquiry into all the known circumstances attending the fate of the lost WAUBUNO - - Advance
Owen Sound Times
August 5, 1880
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Copying our recent article on the loss of the WAUBUNO the Parry Sound Star adds -- The is just this difference between ourselves and the Messenger. 1st. the Messenger man is evidently fighting to prevent an enquiry while we are fighting for one, and the Messenger man has never yet visited the scene of the wreck and examined the hull while we have done so six or eight different times. Our sole object in the matter is to obtain a Government enquiry so that the question may be settled once and for all whether or not blame can be attached to anyone.
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The wife of the late Mr. Fisher of the Parry Sound North Star, who was lost on the WAUBUNO is allowed by a decision of the Court of Appeal, to proceed with her action against the Georgian Bay Trans. Co. The Company had fonnerly obtained an injunction from the Court of Chancery to restrain the action, and this was reversed by the above court. This of course is only the suit of a private individual. The Government has taken no step towards enquiring into the causes that led to the loss of the vessel.
Why the Department of Marine and Fisheries should hesitate in holding an investigation regarding the loss of the WAUBUNO on the Georgian Bay about a year ago is hard to comprehend. The matter is likely to come up in the courts on a private suit, but the public interests demand as searching investigation into the losses of our vessels in inland waters as takes place in accidents at sea. We do not believe that the investigation is being held back through political influence though some of the party say so -- Toronto World
Barrie Northern Advance
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Judgement has been given in the case of the Georgian Bay Transportation Company vs Fisher in the Court of Appeal. B. N. Fisher was one of those who was lost on the WAUBUNO and his wife entered an action against the Company to recover $20,000 for the loss of her husband. The Company obtained an injunction against the proceedings in the Courts for the protection it believed itself entitled to under the Imperial Shipping Act their liability under said Act being 15 (Pounds) per ton on ships tonnage. The appeal was allowed with costs and the order for injunction rescinded with costs.
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" Collingwood is getting an unenviable notoriety for sending to sea marine hearses. Last year's season of navigation closed with the loss of the entire crew and passengers of the WAUBUNO, and this has terminated with the loss of twelve of the crew of the SIMCOE. The owners in both cases are the same, and in both cases they are in a great measure responsible for the lives of those who have been lost. The WAUBUNO was not seaworthy, and there is reason to believe that the owners were aware of the fact; yet, for greed of gain, she was sent to sea and her living
freight to sudden death and a watery grave. Competent judges assert that the SIMCOE was equally unsafe, and that having been twice burnt to the water's edge and once sunk she never should have been patched up. Nothing but disaster could follow. There should be some legislative measure devised which would prevent owners of vessels from jeopardising the lives of their servants and passengers". [part of article]
Owen Sound Advertiser
December 2, 1880
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The WAUBUNO trial has again resulted in a failure of the jury to agree except as to one point, viz, that the care of the ill-fated vessel was in competent hands at the time of the disaster.
Barrie Northern Advance
April 7, 1881
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The WAUBUNO case will be up again in June it is said an effort will be made to have it tried before a judge without a jury. The case has cost something like $9,000 fo far. At the last trial nine of the jury were for the plaintiff.
Barrie Northern Advance
April 21, 1881
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The application on behalf of the plaintiff in the WAUBUNO case to set aside the partial verdict given for the Georgian Bay Transportation Co., at the last assizes was argued last Thursday at Osgoode Hall, and judgement was served. Mr. B.B. Osler, Q.C. appeared for plaintiff, Mr. D. McCarty Q. C., for the defendants.
Barrie Northern Advance
June 9, 1881
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The WAUBUNO case promises to be everlasting. The Court of Queen's Bench gave judgement on Saturday in the rule which was argued before it, during last term to set aside the partial verdict entered for defendants, in the case Fisher v The Georgian Bay T., Co. by C.J. Wilson. The jury found the WAUBUNO had not been skilfully managed, and this being the only point which they could agree, the learned judgement setting aside, so now this interminable case stands in the same position today as it did when the writ was first issued.
Barrie Northern Advance
June 30, 1881
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THE MYSTERIOUS FATE OF THE "WAUBUNO"
The story of the wreck of the steamer "WAUBUNO" has about it an air of mystery uncommon to such occurrences on the Great Lakes, and savors somewhat of a tale of the deep sea, when all that is ever known is that some vessel left port, was reported overdue, failed to reach her destination, and some pieces of floating wreckage, and, perchance a battered lifeboat or two are alone left to explain the tale of disaster.
Not quite so vague and uncertain was the fate of the "WAUBUNO", but very like it. Time has brought to light many things not known at the time of the wreck, but little light has been thrown on the mystery itself.
Although the wreck must have occured less than a mile from land, not one single person, either passenger or sailor was saved, and not a body was ever recovered. Months after the wreck, the battered hull was found floating, bottom up, in a snug bay, far in among the islands; and years after fishermen dragged up from the bottom of the bay some articles which were recognized as belonging to the "WAUBUNO", and which must have sunk where the ill-fated steamer was lost.
The "WAUBUNO" was built in 1865. She was a sidewheeler about 150 feet in length and 40 feet beam. In her early days, the steamer made trips to, or from, any port where freight was to be picked up, sometimes going up to Thunder Bay, Lake Superior, where a Hudson Bay post was the only sign of civilization, then to some lumber depot on the almost unknown north shores of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, calling periodically at Parry Sound, where the late Wm. Beatty, one of the steamer's owners, was trying to carve a model temperance settlement out of the forest. At the time just before the wreck, the "WAUBUNO" had become somewhat weakened by age, and her machinery was insufficient to enable her to successfully face the gale. Her earnings helped build a number of larger and better boats, so the old boat was relegated to the Parry Sound and Collingwood route, exclusively, the trade of which was growing into large proportions. On this route the exposed portion was the twenty eight mile run between Hope Island and Lone Rock, and a considerable part of that even could be avoided by heading for Moose Point and running into the sound by way of the south channel.
As the Captain could easily choose his weather and lie to behind the islands when the sea was too rough for safety and of the comfort of the passengers, nobody dreamed of the possibility of a wreck on that short run, unless it was some inexperienced landlubber.
A rival company, however, had put on the same route, a new and faster steamer, which by dodging in and out of east and north shore ports ahead of the "WAUBUNO", picking up passengers and freight in a manner exasperating to both crew and owners.
It is possible that a desire to mend this state of affairs led to the "WAUBUNO's" wreck, as otherwise her captain would probably have tied up to an island in safety and waited for the gale to blow over. It is more than hinted that Captain Burkett was more than once or twice taunted with allowing the new steamer to outsail and outweather him, and it is said too, that he would not be outsailed.
Saturday, November 22, 1879, was a wild and winter like day. The wind blew a gale and snow squalls were frequent. All the previous day it had been blowing great guns, and the "WAUBUNO" lay at dock at Collingwood, with one of the biggest loads of freight of the season, and a number of passengers, with her crew of 14, waiting for the gale to moderate sufficiently to enable her to start for Parry Sound.
Among the passengers were Mr. B. Noel Fisher, publisher and proprietor of the "North Star", of Parry Sound, a Dr. Doupe and his bride of three weeks, from Mitchell, Ont., on their way to McKellar village, where the doctor intended to practice. There were also a Mr. Sylvester and wife, a man named Griffith, of Gananoque, and three or four other men, whose names are unknown. Several Parry Sound people and others, narrowly escaped being victims, by being left behind, and a few who went to sleep at a hotel instead of staying on board, to rejoice in their escape.
In connection with the sad loss of Dr. Doupe and his bride, it is said Mrs. Doupe had a great dread of the water, and the night before the "WAUBUNO" sailed she had a dream in which she saw the steamer wrecked, and herself, her husband and fellow passengers in the water fighting for their lives.
In the morning she told her husband of her dream and with tears, besought him not to venture out on the boat, but the doctor made light of her dream and her fears, attributed both to nervousness, said their furniture and effects were on the boat, their tickets paid for, and that it would cost a large sum to go around by Gravenhurst and the road, and so, much against her will, she gave way to his arguments and consented to remain on the boat. This accident is no fancy sketch, but vouched for by many responsible people to whom Mrs. Doupe told her dream the day before the "WAUBUNO" sailed her last trip.
During Friday night, November 21, the wind lulled somewhat, and Captain Burkett, saying the worst of the storm was over, pulled out of Collingwood harbour at 4, Saturday, without waiting for the passengers who had gone to the hotel for the night.
The only person who saw the "WAUBUNO" afloat after she left Collingwood was Hoar, the Christian Island lighthouse keeper, who saw her as she passed his light, bound north, apparently all right.
About noon the same day some lumbermen working in the Vicinity of Moon River heard a whistle which they recognized as the "WAUBUNO's", sounding as if in distress, but little attention was paid to it at the time, as they thought she was signalling some person on one of the islands. From the direction of the sound of the whistle these men afterward came to the conclusion that Captain Burkett had tried to reach Parry Sound by way of Lone rock, but unable to find the rock in the blinding snowstorm, had turned around and tried to get into the calm waters of the south channel by way of the Haystack Rocks.
At about 10 a.m., of the fateful Saturday, the opposition steamer "MAGNETTAWAN", owned by the Georgian Bay Lumber Co., also pulled out of Collingwood for Parry Sound, but Captain J. O'Donnell, the master, finding the weather too thick and the sea still running high, decided to remain under shelter of Christian Island until the weather cleared.
Reaching Parry Sound at noon on Monday 24, the crew of the "MAGNETTAWAN" were surprised the "Waubuno" had not arrived, and that nothing had been seen or heard of her. It was supposed that the steamer, unable to find Lone rock, had run into the south channel, where she was possibly stuck in shallow water, as she was heavy laden and water low.
In order to render assistance, if needed, the Parry Sound Lumber Co.'s tug "MITTY GREW," was sent down the south channel in search of the missing steamer. Captain Burritt, the master of the tug, and his crew made a hasty examination of the south channel and picked up a lifeboat of the "WAUBUNO", some pieces of wreckage, as well as cases of freight, and also a piece of the steamer's paddle box, with the letters "WAUBUNO" painted on it. They remained until dark in the vicinity, running by the adjacent islands, sounding their whistle, and doing all in their power to attract the attention of any passengers or crew, who might have made their escape to shore; but all was in vain.
Returning to Parry Sound for orders and assistance, next morning the tug was again sent to the scene of the wreck with a sailboat, and a number of volunteers, chief among whom were Messrs. A. Starkey, now of Wrenbury Hall, Cheshire, and the late Thos. R. Caton. From the heavy wreckage which had come ashore on a small rocky island near the Haystacks, it was evident the vessel had come to grief somewhere off the south entrance, near Moose Point. Every island for several miles north and south was strewn with wreckage of the lost boat; apples strewed the shores of the islands as from orchards after a gale. Bags of flour, bales and boxes of dry goods, chests of tea, bundles of paper, and various kinds of freight, as well as some of the steamer's furniture were picked up and taken care of.
Indians and half-breeds and other fresh water pirates swarmed around the islands like vultures on the field of battle, fighting among themselves for the plunder cast ashore, and from the cases broken open they extracted enough dry goods and readymade clothing to fit them out for a long time. A good deal of stuff was rescued by the crew of the tug and the volunteer helpers, which was brought into Parry Sound and turned over to the proper owners, but no trace of the passengers and crew of the lost ship could be found.
Mr. Starkey and a number of friends remained on the scene with his schooner yacht, "IDA", and continued the search as long as there was any chance of anyone surviving on an island, but their search was vain, and they sadly returned home, convinced that not a soul had escaped. Until winter set in, search for bodies was kept up unsuccessfully.
All through the winter, stories of the finding of the wrecked steamer's hull were in circulation in and around Parry Sound, but it was not until the latter part of March that anything like authentic information was received.
Then Mr. Ireland, who had purchased the "North Star", found an Indian named Pendonquot who averred that he had found the hull, bottom up, in a little bay behind Moose Point, some three or four miles southeast of the Haystacks. A party was at once organized by Mr. Starkey and the editor, the Indian Pendonquot being hired, and the party drove down the south channel on the ice on March 30, 1880, finding the Indian's story to be strictly true.
Thus four months after the wreck, the hull of the lost vessel was found, but how she had drifted into the haven, in which she was found, whether she had capsized in open water, been stripped of her upper works or had struck a shoal and then rolled over, there was no means of determining, and there never will be "till the sea gives up its dead".
As soon as navigation opens Messrs Starkey and Ireland and Jno. Rowland, of the Globe Hotel, Collingwood, whose son John was purser of the lost steamer, went to the scene of the wreck in the yacht "IDA" and spent considerable time in searching the islands for bodies, but beyond finding more wreckage and freight, nothing was ever discovered.
Later on, a hole was cut in the bottom of the hull and a further search for bodies made, but only freight, wood and wreckage was found, but evidence was not wanting that the vessel had over-turned before the upper works broke up. Still later, the owners of the vessel turned the hull right side up in hope of finding the bodies was continued at intervals, but although the islands were thoroughly examined for miles from the wrecked hull, no trace of the lost ones was ever found. There had been on the steamer, when wrecked, a team of horses, one or two cows, and two or three dogs, but none of these ever went ashore or were found. Every life preserver of the steamer was picked up, none having been used, showing that the wreck occured suddenly and without warning, otherwise some of the unfortunates would doubtless have put on life preservers and taken to the lifeboats.
There was no sign on the bottom of the hull to show that it had struck rocks, but that it had capsized was borne out by the fact of the "Sampson post" being driven through the bottom of the hull.
The Mystery Still Unsolved
A discovery was made by Mr. Starkey which pointed to the wreck having occured on Haystack Reefs, he having found iron rods and parts of the machinery in sixteen feet of water. Not having means of lifting this stuff, Mr. Starkey abandoned the search on the reefs.
In 1898, Mr. Archie Campbell, a fisherman while fishing up some of his nets on Haystack Reefs, brought to the surface one of the lost steamer's hand trucks, (This truck given to Midland Museum in 1950 by Capt. Ed. Burke of Midland) some chains and other articles, thus a mystery as at first.
Nothing but the vaguest conjecture can ever be made as to what lead to the wreck on that awful day, and how the passengers of the lost boat met their fate. Not a particle of the main deck of the "WAUBUNO", has ever been found, which leads to the assumption that it was carried to the bottom by the weight of iron and other heavy freight, in the vessel's
hold, and some firmly believe that the vessel upset, the machinery and heavy freight carrying the main deck down, and with it, the helpless victims.
Mrs. Fisher, widow of the lost editor of the "North Star", sued the owners of the steamer for heavy damage, but two special juries were unable to agree as to the cause of the wreck, and the suit, as well as a number of others had to be dropped. A mass of evidence was adduced as to the condition of the steamer, but of such a contradictory character as to puzzle both judge and juries.
The wreck caused the loss of twenty-four lives and upwards of $10,000 worth of freight, which composed the cargo of the vessel, very little of which was recovered, and that in a damaged condition. To this day the hull of the wrecked "WAUBUNO" lies in that snug bay near Moose Point where it drifted so mysteriously on that day in November, 1879, and at low water, parts of it protrude above the surface and are viewed by many a curious hunter after strange sights.
Other wrecks there have been, but about none hangs the veil of mystery as it does about the hull of the old "WAUBUNO".
Canadian Diving News
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- Media Type
- Item Type
- Reason: sunk
Freight: freight &c.
Remarks: Total loss
- Date of Original
- Local identifier
- Language of Item
- Geographic Coverage
Latitude: 45.334166 Longitude: -80.038333
- William R. McNeil
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- Maritime History of the Great LakesEmail